Our Bureau

Hyderabad, Jan. 20

THE proposed meeting of Mr Hugh Grant, Chief Executive Officer of Monsanto, with the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, next week has come in for criticism from non-governmental organisations, farmers and scientists.

SAGE (South Against Genetic Engineering), an alliance of over 60 networks, organisations and individuals belonging to farmers' groups, civil society activists and scientists from South India, has expressed concern over Mr Grant meeting the President and the Prime Minister next week.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, Mr P.V. Sateesh, Convener of SAGE, said Monsanto, which marketed its patented Bt strain for cottonseeds, might influence the Governments to remove pressure on the company.

The alliance has written letters to the President, Prime Minister and the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, urging them not to entertain the multinational biotechnology company that charged exorbitant sums as royalty.

Referring to the Andhra Pradesh Government moving the MRTPC (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission) over the royalty issue, Mr Sateesh said the company was rattled.

"The Andhra Pradesh Government has also appealed to its neighbours such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharasthra to join its effort to halt Monsanto's monopolistic effort," he said.

"It views India as its greatest market now after China started producing its own GE (genetically engineered) cotton varieties. In the Europe, it has got a severe drubbing. Therefore, they do not want to suffer any reversals in the Indian market," the letter, copies of which were released to the media, said.

The proposed meeting was an attempt to bring high-level pressure on the Andhra Pradesh Government to peter down the case.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 21, 2006)
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